Not too long ago, a friend of mine discovered rather abruptly and rudely that he had dated a crazy woman. Now, in the South, we're used to such. It's actually a common practice. But west of the Mississippi, it's a bit different.
He was bewildered. "She didn't seem crazy. She seemed normal."
I laughed. Remember: I'm Southern so I have a lot of experience with crazy. "See, that's the problem." I counseled him. "Crazy can hide itself so well that you don't see it for a long time. Matters like this require expert supervision. You should have called me."
Oh, he had just gone out with her casually three or four times but, in less time than it takes to whip up a bowl of instant grits, a problem had risen up. It was an eye opener.
In the South, our people are basically eccentric. That means that our crazy people are off-beat, interesting and almost always entertaining. This woman, though, was the kind of crazy that probably has an official, long name attached to it, the kind of crazy that has no amusement or entertainment value to it. It just has sorrow and aggravation glued to it.
There, but by the grace of God, goes anyone -- man, woman, young, old -- who is in the dating world. You never know when you will link up with someone eccentrically crazy or seriously crazy.
Many years ago, I met a handsome, eligible man at a friend's dinner party. She had seated us next to each other and over dinner, he confessed, "I asked Meg to arrange it where I could sit by you. I've wanted to meet you for a long time."
I thought he was nice and charming but my instinct screamed to me, "Don't!" Like many people, I often wrestle down instinct with logic or, as we say in the country, good common horse sense. I couldn't find anything wrong with him. Several of my friends highly recommended him and laughed at the nonsense of my doubts.
I shrugged off my intuition and walked straight into the arms of a bad mistake. It wasn't subtly crazy, eccentric crazy or charming crazy. It was full-fledged crazy with diagnosis and medication attached. It was two years before I could get up the heart or nerve to date again.
So, with these two stories filed away in my life's experiences, I was quick with an answer when my friend, Carolee, asked my advice on using an online dating service.
"Several of my friends and all my family say that I should try an online service to meet someone. What do you think?"
"Don't do it." Now, I know these services have worked for many people but Carolee is 43 and has never married because she can't find a man who has all the qualifications that she has written down on a piece of lined notebook paper that she has been toting around in her purse since she was 15.
She puffed up. "Why?"
"Listen, I've gotten involved with crazy people and they were recommended to me by people who professed to like me. Crazy is too much trouble. I'd rather spend the rest of my life alone with a library of books and my DVR."
While she continues to debate it, I have thought more about it. If she wants to do it, she should. After all, you can't outsmart fate. If you're destined to date a crazy person at some point in your life, they're going to find you. Whether it's at a dinner party, at the office, online or standing in line to buy coffee, that crazy person will find you and allure you by acting perfectly normal. You can't out run fate.
Take this advice, though: Until a person proves otherwise, just assume that everyone you date is crazy.
It's easier that way.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should). Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.